Music Australia News

Remote Music Learning Comes Into Its Own For Primary Level and Upwards

Graham Strahle
| May 17, 2020

Online education has never mattered as much as it does at present, and these last few months have been witness to a rapid expansion of web-based teaching resources being made available through many music institutions.

In the tertiary sector, the Australian National Academy of Music is just one example of what has been happening. Having had to close its doors with the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, it swung over entirely to online course delivery in a ‘digital music academy’ that was launched on 22 April. This involves teaching all classes remotely, including performance opportunities and weekly webinars offered by such luminaries as Simone Young, Gabor Takács-Nagy and Barbara Hannigan.

Incidentally, further news is that Paavali Jumppanen, the outstanding Finnish pianist, has been announced ANAM’s new artistic director beginning next year.

Two illustrations of what is happening at the primary and secondary levels come from the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

As part of its learning and outreach programs, the ACO offers Spotify playlists and recorded live performances, as well as behind-the-scenes rehearsals with Italian violinist Lorenza Borrani in its ‘In The Studio’ series – see here. The orchestra also provides a number of practical-based, free lessons for younger children in its ACO Music & Art Program presented by US violinist Sharon Roffman. Kids are able to listen to sounds of her violin and create drawings based on her playing using coloured pencils, textas, crayons or paint. Then there is ACO Foundations, which offers free instrumental and classroom music lessons to children in under-resourced schools. This has been designed with input from educator and researcher Dr Anita Collins as well as academics from the University of Sydney – look here for details.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has a particularly well-developed outreach and education program that we have already profiled. Recently it added an offering for upper primary students and later years called TUNE IN. This is a collection of 48 fully self-contained activities that consist of meet-the-composer and other introductory videos, audio recordings, observation-based quizzes, and word games. Composers represented span the Baroque up to the present and include Australian composers Maria Grenfell, Jessica Wells and Paul Stanhope. Worksheets, being made available from Term 3, will cater for lower primary classrooms. All the activities are handily colour coded to show how long each recording is.

Jenny Compton, TSO’s Learning and Engagement Executive, tells how TUNE IN just managed to be completed as the Coronavirus pandemic hit Australia.

“I was able to get the videos filmed after things had shut down. Luckily I had planned everything last year, so I could hit the ground running once I knew I had the video footage accomplished! It’s great to be able to offer work to Brad Harris, the videographer, as he lost nearly all the work he had been booked for, overnight. ABC Classic and HUSH have been wonderful allowing the TSO to include their TSO recordings.”

“I wanted to create a learning destination rather than an assessment-focused resource; something for everyone, with the potential to be used by many groups, in many ways. For instance, when all the sets are complete and online, the musician videos will be a great resource for band and string programs, as well as general classrooms. I also like to think of life-long learners discovering TUNE IN and get many hours of pleasure losing themselves in the pages of videos, recordings and quiz questions.”

It is a terrifically well designed package – see it here.

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